How to File a DBA in Illinois

An Illinois DBA (doing business as) is called an assumed name. Getting an Illinois DBA registration won’t protect your personal assets. Forming a formal business structure like LLC or corporation will give you liability protection along with a business name.

Forming an LLC is the best choice for most small businesses. Learn more in our DBA vs LLC guide.

To get started with an Illinois DBA, choose your business entity type:


Register an Illinois DBA for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership

General partnerships, sole proprietors, and professional corporations are required to file their Illinois DBA with the County Clerk in the county where the business is located.

A general partnership is a business formed by two or more people, without a formal business structure. A sole proprietorship is a business owned by a single individual that isn't formally organized. In either case, the name of the business is the same as the name of the owners. A DBA can be useful in these cases for changing the name of the business to a more marketable name.

A DBA is only used for branding. A DBA doesn't offer any protection for your personal assets in the event that your business is sued. For this reason, we strongly recommend that a DBA should only be used by a formal business structure such as an LLC or corporation for the purpose of adding new brands to an existing business. 

If you are running an informal business (sole proprietorship or partnership), we strongly suggest forming an LLC to separate your business and personal assets. The name of the LLC can be selected to act as the brand name for the business.

Use our How to Get a DBA in Illinois guide below to register an Illinois assumed name for your business. For a look at DBA filing in another state, check out our other step-by-step How to Get a DBA guides.

Step 1. Start With an Illinois Assumed Name Search

Illinois assumed names must be unique and must also meet Illinois’s business name requirements.

First, visit the Illinois Secretary of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Illinois naming requirements. In Illinois, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Any word or phrase (e.g. trust, trustee, fiduciary) that indicates or implies that your company is in the business of a corporate fiduciary unless permitted by the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation.
  • Any words that indicate the corporation is in the business of banking, insurance, or corporate fiduciary without authorization from the state Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate.
  • Any word or phrase that is restricted by any other state statute

Learn more about Illinois naming guidelines by reading the state statute that covers professional corporation naming guidelines.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

Once you reserve a domain name for your DBA, consider setting up a business phone system to help strengthen your customer service and boost credibility. We recommend Phone.com because of its affordable pricing and variety of useful features. Start calling with Phone.com.

Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2. Filing a DBA in Illinois with the County Clerk

Sole proprietors, partnerships, and professional corporations are required to file an assumed business name application with the appropriate county clerk’s office(s) in order to operate under a DBA.

Sole proprietors, partnerships, and professional corporations must file in any county where your business conducts or transacts business.

We will give you step-by-step directions to get a Cook County DBA (Chicago). For directions in other counties, please contact your county clerk.

You can find your counties' contact information from the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders.

How to File a Cook County DBA

Before you start the DBA filing process, it is a good idea to search the Cook County assumed name database.

Once you have selected your name, you will then complete the Assumed Business Name Application and submit it to the Cook County Clerk. The certificate can be submitted online, by mail, or in-person.

File Your Cook County Assumed Name

Option 1: File Online With the Cook County Clerk

File Online

- OR -

Option 2: File the Assumed Business Name Application by Mail or In-Person

Download Form


Cost:
$50 Filing Fee

Filing Address:
Cook County Clerk
Vital Statistics P.O. Box 641070
Chicago IL, 60664-1070
ATTN: Assumed Name Unit

Note:
Hard copy forms must be notarized

Publication Requirement

Sole proprietors, general partnerships, and professional corporations are required to publish a Copy of Legal Notice of Assumed Business Name in a local weekly newspaper after registering an assumed business name. Publication must occur within 15 days of registration and the notice must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.

Following publication, proof of publication must be submitted to the Clerk’s office within 50 days of the application. The newspaper will provide you with a notarized Certificate of Publication and an original clipping of the published legal notice. Return both the certificate and clipping to the Clerk’s office.

For more information on publication and approved newspapers, contact your county clerk.

Manage Your Cook County DBA

DBA Questions
Call the Cook County Clerk at (312) 603-5652.

Renew Your DBA
Your assumed name does not expire.

Change Your DBA
To make changes to your Assumed Business Name Application, file electronically on the Cook County Clerk’s office website or fill out and submit the Notification of Assumed Business Name Amendments form. The filing fee is $25.

Withdraw Your DBA
Fill out Section I of the Notification of Assumed Business Name Amendments form with the Cook County Clerk.

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your sole proprietorship or partnership we recommend:

four point five out of five  Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

File an Illinois DBA for an LLC or Corporation

The following businesses must register their assumed name with the Illinois Secretary of State:

  • For-profit Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations
  • Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Any Foreign Filing Entities

You can file a DBA for your incorporated business yourself by using this guide. Or, use a professional service:

Step 1. Do an Illinois Business Entity Search

Illinois assumed names must be unique and must also meet Illinois’s business name requirements.

First, visit the Illinois Secretary of State's website and search for your new DBA name to make sure it isn’t already in use.

Next, review the Illinois naming requirements. In Illinois, assumed names should NOT include:

  • Words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.)
  • Any word or phrase (e.g. trust, trustee, fiduciary) that indicates or implies that your company is in the business of a corporate fiduciary unless permitted by the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation.
  • Any words that indicate the corporation is in the business of banking, insurance, or corporate fiduciary without authorization from the state Commissioner of Banks and Real Estate.
  • Any word or phrase that is restricted by any other state statute 

Learn more by reading the Illinois state statutes that cover corporation and LLC naming guidelines.

We recommend checking if your name is available as a web domain (URL). You might not plan on starting a business website today, but you may want to prevent others from acquiring your URL.

Find a Domain Now

Need Help Creating a Brand Name and Logo?

If you need help coming up with a DBA name, try our business name generator. Then, create a unique logo for your brand with our free logo generator.

Step 2: Filing Your Illinois Application to Adopt an Assumed Name

You are required to set up your DBA with the Illinois Secretary of State if your business is an LLC or corporation. The forms and rules vary between LLCs and corporations.

File Your Illinois Assumed Name

Option 1: File Online With Cyberdrive Illinois

LLC Online Filing
Corporation Online Filing

- OR -

Option 2: File the Application to Adopt an Assumed Name by Mail or In-Person

LLC Assumed Name Application
Corporation Assumed Name Application


Filing Cost:

  • $150 for each year or part thereof ending in 0 or 5 
  • $120 for each year or part thereof ending in 1 or 6 
  • $90 for each year or part thereof ending in 2 or 7 
  • $60 for each year or part thereof ending in 3 or 8 
  • $30 for each year or part thereof ending in 4 or 9

LLC Filing Address:
Department of Business Services
Limited Liability Division
501 S. Second St., Rm. 351
Springfield, IL 62756

Corporation Filing Address:
Secretary of State
Department of Business Services
501 S. Second St., Rm. 350
Springfield, IL 62756

Manage Your Illinois DBA

DBA Questions
Call the Illinois Department of Business Services: (217) 782-6961

Renew Your DBA with the State
Your Certificate of Assumed Name expires after five years. The fee to renew your assumed name is $150. A penalty of $100 will apply to any assumed name renewed on or after the first day of the company's anniversary month.

Change Your DBA
To make changes to your Certificate of Assumed Name, you must complete and submit the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name for either an LLC or a corporation. The fee to file your assumed name change is $25.

Withdraw Your DBA
File the Application to Adopt, Change, Cancel or Renew an Assumed Name for an LLC or for a corporation. The fee to cancel an assumed name is $5.

If you want to use a professional service to get a DBA for your LLC or corporation we recommend:

four point five out of five Swyft Filings ($99 + state fee)

After Filing Your Illinois DBA

If filing a DBA marks the beginning of your business journey, then there are a few more steps that you should take before getting started:

  • Create your Business’s Website - Every business needs a website. Luckily, drag-and-drop builders like GoDaddy and Wix make the job quick and easy. Check out our Best Website Builder article to find the tool that’s best for you.
  • Get your Business Finances in Order - You’ll need to separate your business finances from your personal ones. This is accomplished by opening a business bank account. If your business has long lead times or other cash flow irregularities, you can also look into a business credit card.
  • Protect Your Business - While an LLC will help to protect your personal assets in the case of a lawsuit, your business’s assets also need protection. Having the right business insurance will ensure that you’re covered if the worst happens. Most businesses start with general liability insurance as their base coverage.

DBA Illinois FAQ

How many DBAs can I have?

You can have as many DBAs as you can afford to create and are able to keep track of. Each one comes with additional incremental expenses and paperwork, meaning more is not necessarily better.

Can a DBA get an EIN or Tax ID?

DBAs aren’t required to have a separate EIN because DBAs aren’t a business entity. The business entity that the DBA is under would have an EIN if an EIN is required.

To learn more about EINs and when you need one for your business, read our What is an EIN guide.

Can a DBA become an LLC?

No. An LLC is a business entity, while a DBA is just a name for a business.

Sole proprietorships are often confused with DBAs, but they are not the same: a sole proprietorship is a business entity, therefore it can choose to become an LLC.

To learn how to form an LLC, visit our Form an LLC state guides.

Can a DBA have Inc. in the name?

A DBA can only have Inc. in the name if the business entity the DBA is attached to is a corporation.

How do I set up a DBA for a rental property?

Holding a rental property in your name and with a DBA will not afford you any protection. The best option is to form an LLC to protect your personal assets in the event of an issue with the rental property. In any case, it is always best to consult an attorney.

When would it be good to get a DBA versus a legal name change?

Getting a DBA is often a better choice than changing your business’s legal name. If you want to rebrand your company or focus on another line of business, filing for a DBA is a simpler process than filing for a legal name change.

Is my DBA protected from being used in other places?

Some state-level laws prevent DBAs that are too similar to existing ones from being used, but this varies from state to state. It is possible to trademark a DBA, which would offer stronger protection across state lines.

Useful Links for Your Illinois DBA